The continuing clashes in the Ein El-Hilweh Palestine Refugee Camp, along with the ongoing takeover of eight UNRWA schools, are preventing the access of nearly 6,000 children who are about to begin their school year.
Education institutions must be safe and neutral spaces, critical for children's learning, well-being, and growth. The use of armed groups of schools amounts to gross violations of both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law endangering children's rights to a safe learning environment, and jeopardizing their future and the future of their community.
I urge armed groups to stop the fighting in the camp and vacate these schools immediately. I also call for the facilitation of the work of UNRWA and other humanitarian organisations to provide much-needed protection and assistance to families in need in the camp.
The protection of civilians, including children, and their access to school, safe from all forms of violence and exploitation, is a shared responsibility. All concerned actors must take action to protect civilians, facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and prevent the use of civilian infrastructure for fighting purposes.